The 3rd Day of Christmas

Already they are counting down to New Year. But I am different.

I am not one of those who begins Christmas in October (or even earlier). I am not one of those who begins Christmas on the day after Thanksgiving.

Christmas does not begin until December 24, preferably in the evening, although I have been known to refer to the entire day as “Christmas Eve”…

Yes, there is a holy day season, but for me, the weeks before Christmas eve are ADVENT, not Christmas.

But I am weird. I also believe that babies cannot be baptized because they are not consciously making a decision to surrender to the Lord.

I warned you. I am a very weird liberal Christian. Or “XIAN” as so many nay-sayers say.

And then, when everyone is breathing a sigh of relief and saying oh my God Christmas is finally over, I am saying no it aint. It only began when the sun went down on the 24th.

Today, December 27th, 2012, is the third day of Christmas.

And please don’t get me started about Winter.

That, after all, is both the REALLY real true reason, AND the season.

XMAS gift presence in February next

As I come towards the end of the big project I have been working on since the middle of November, and can actually see the end of the tunnel gleaming with light before me, and think I will even really make money on this work, I begin to think it will be possible for me to take a trip into Mexico.

I have not gone south since Autumn 2010 when I went to Guadalajara, Teotihuacan, and Zacatecas. In recent weeks, between struggles with the sex education book I have been asked to transform from Spanish into English, I have turned my thoughts south, and wondered where I might go in February or March, and how I might not just enjoy myself, but actually learn and improve myself as an artist and a writer.

Now, keep in mind that this plan is very much in the dead shadow of my original desire, to live in Maya country during December and January 2012 and 2013, to experience the winter tourist season in this year of end-of-the-calendar tourist apocalypse. After several years of hoping to do just that – visit Maya country during the end of the calendar – I had to let that plan move into never-never-land beginning last spring when I realized I just was not going to have enough money left to go, not after spending all my savings on the delicious railroad trip I took with Mom last summer.

Then I got this job translating a whole book, and I began to understand I would have enough to go south after all. Not in December, but in February or March, after the holiday crush had ended.

So I began to think about where should I go now, now that I was not going to go to Maya country for the calendar. Should I go there anyway? Or…

I began to think of other opportunities, other delights in Mexico. Like Oaxaca, where I have never been. Or the great and ancient cities of Cholula and Tlaxcala, so important historically, especially to what I have written and still want to write about the conquest of 1519 and 1520.

Or perhaps, I thought, something more colonial, like Guanajuato, or San Miguel de Allende, two famously beautiful towns I have never seen.

Then, as I was google searching to see if there were any poetry reading groups in San Miguel, I stumbled upon the announcement of the

February 13 – 17, 2013

8th Annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference & Literary Festival!

…and I was almost instantly hooked.

I am waiting until after the holidays to see if I actually get paid, and if I really will have enough to spend on this. But God willing and the creek don’t rise, I most probably will go south in early February, spend a week in San Miguel, and then come back.

There is a special deal on the hotel where the conference will be held, they are offering us half/price hotel rooms, so I will make a big plunge and spend almost 700 pesos a night (57 dollars) to stay in a very classy room (normally 115 or 120 dollars a night) – not the big suites or even the junior suites mind you, just a standard room – but still much more pricey than I normally get for myself even in Mexico. Much more than I have ever spent. Except I only have to pay half-price, so… hmmm.

I does mean, however, that I cannot travel around Mexico for three weeks like I wanted. I have to come home sooner.

But that will make my mother happy, and all the rest of the family who will be watching over her while I am gone.

This, as it turns out, might just be Santa’s present to me.

Except, of course, I have to buy it myself.

Oh well, some things never change.

😉

Channel (s)

I remember when there were only two channels in San Diego and two more from Tijuana (one in English), and we were jealous of Los Angeles which had seven television channels. Then came cable. And now the internet. An explosion of media sharks desperately trolling for viewers. Wallowing in sexy tragedy and crime. We usually leave the TV off, now.

DOME Hiroshima

One of my sisters in law… how many do I have? Two? Three… wait, I forgot my ex-wives’ sisters… okay. There. Well, anyway, one of them said a few weeks ago that she does not like the new San Diego library building at all. Because of its dome.

It looks like Hiroshima, she said, growling.

San Miguel de Allende

I remember hearing once about a joke about the famous Mexican actor “Cantinflas” (Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes [Mario Moreno] 1911-1993), who was being interviewed one time and the reporter asked him if he had been to San Miguel de Allende. Oh no, Cantinflas answered, I cannot go there. Why? the reporter asked. Because I don’t speak English, the actor answered, laughing.

Of course like many funny stories, it is not quite true. In the giant film Around the world in 80 days, Cantinflas spoke rather good English in his important role beside David Niven, and furthermore, my personal research, although limited, seems to indicate that like many other successful Mexican artists and performers, he owned a vacation home in San Miguel.

Be that as it may or may not be, the point of the joke — la neta, como dicen “los jovenes” — is that San Miguel de Allende is full of foreigners, most of them gringos who don’t speak any Spanish.

That too, is largely false. Gringos are a minority of the population in San Miguel (again, this is based on my little bit of research). But, like most “untrue” (or at least exagerated) stories, there is a grain of truth in there.

When I wrote an email to the San Miguel writers’ conference hotel reservation volunteer asking about a room at the inn, her response was kind enough, and welcome. But she did say that she would be handling all the reservations because the people at the hotel do not speak English. The subtext was, and is, that she does and perhaps I do not.

I note, however, with great pleasure that va ser unos clases — o talleres — in Spanish. Maybe I will even enroll myself in one. A ver si me atrevo.

1968 Maui — near Lahaina

I remember I was walking through the trees near the beach. I looked up and saw him at the moment he saw me. Our eyes locked and we smiled.

Wow, he said.

Our minds connected.

I cannot remember his name.

No, no sex. Absolutely this is not a gay story.

This is a mind story. A brain and eyeball story. A walking through trees near the beach story.

Northwest of Lahaina.

Summer, 1968.